Cultural change is biggest challenge in CS reform

| 13/10/2015 | 71 Comments
Cayman News Service

Mary Rodrigues, Executive Sponsor for Project Future

(CNS): The head of the unit which is tasked with reforming the way the civil services operates has said that one of the biggest challenges is to change the culture in public sector management. Mary Rodrigues, who is heading up Project Future, has said that the civil service must embrace the concept of business cases and solid project management methodologies for any future capital development being undertaken by government.

Speaking to the Public Accounts Committee recently, she said one of the biggest lessons she had learned as a result of the problems on the government school projects was that the starting point for any public sector development had to be a business case. She said the historic problem of not undertaking business cases was not just a problem for the education ministry but a government-wide problem which was not being addressed.

“It is essential that as a government … we fully embrace the need to have and to develop formal project management methodologies and the use of business cases,” said Rodrigues, as she explained the development of a new approach towards government’s capital or major projects.

She said the new unit, which is heading up the reform under the banner of Project Future, is “well on the way to being able to deliver” as it trains staff and implements new protocols.

“But the challenge is changing attitudes,” Rodrigues, the former chief officer in the education ministry, told the PAC as she answered questions about how the audit report on the government schools project had influenced government and its move toward governance improvements.

Rodrigues said she wanted to see civil service management “embrace the use of good project management and business cases” across government. “I feel very strongly that the business case must be the starting point for any government project,” the senior civil servant said, adding that it might not guarantee success but adhering to best practices would provide the best chance of success.

She explained that chief officers cannot be project managers but they need to know what to look for and recognize the roles that everybody involved should play.

Having held workshops for some 75 senior civil servants, stakeholders and politicians and trained more than 95 government staff in writing business cases, people are becoming clearer about fulfilling those roles, she said, but pointed to skill gaps and the need to “build the capacity” to meet the requirements of best project management practices.

“Government has to invest in making accountability real,” Rodrigues added, as she explained the need for people to understand who is responsible for what and the compliance required to adhere to specific roles. She said the law was clear about the different expectations between politicians and civil servants but the people involved had to follow expectations ministers as well as civil servants.

However, Rodrigues said that, going forward, chief officers could have confidence in the deputy governor that if they felt ministers were overstepping their roles they could take their concerns to him.

Rodrigues said she and the Project Future team were fully behind the auditor general’s efforts to improve governance in the CIG, and despite having some issues regarding the context, background and findings of the report on the government schools, as she said it was a very challenging situation as a result of a “rogue contractor”, she agreed with all recommendations and that the lack of a business case from the start was a major problem.

“There was no business case when we started and we didn’t know then — but we know now — the importance of a business case,” she said. “Without a business case we were flying blind, desperately fighting fires.” she admitted.

Having taken on board the main recommendations, Rodrigues also had one of her own as she pointed to a need for the Office of the Auditor General to undertake interim audits on projects, especially ones that span election periods and a change in government, because she said things can change and there may be a need to establish clear lines of accountability and responsibility following a change in a minister or a chief officer.

The PAC hearing, in which the members examined the damning audit report, ‘Major Capital Projects –Building Schools’, morning session and afternoon session, are posted on GOVTV here. Mary Rodrigues and former education minister, Rolston Anglin, gave evidence in the afternoon session – see below.

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Comments (71)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    How to change the Civil Service: stop promoting the schmoozers and promote the hard workers instead.

  2. Anonymous says:

    To all the serial haters out there. If you want us to take you seriously, start your comment with your name, then you should list one thing you have achieved for the civil service or the Cayman Islands. Then you can comment.

    Work for Mrs Rodrigues, and you will know that she is smart, she is a leader,she takes risks she takes action. A lot of other senior civil servants hide because they are afraid of the haters, afraid to make a mistake. It is great to be on her team, she has your back, she inspires you to work hard because she works hard. She makes you want to do good, because that is what she is working on. If you are lazy, have nothing to offer, only focus on being negative, you will not like her.

  3. Anonymous says:

    A gift from us Mrs R:

    ” You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood for something, sometime in your life.”
    Winston Churchill

  4. Knot S Smart says:

    Smart and beautiful lady – and I bet she can cook good too…

  5. Rick says:

    I’m not sure whether to be shocked or pleased at the negative comments here. On the one hand, what I know of this lady tells me that people here do not know what they are talking about when they put her down. I know her to be extremely competent, balanced and a light on a hill when it comes to serving the Caymanian people. She is simply great. On the other hand, it is said that no one kicks a dead horse. The better you are at what you do, the more strongly your detractors will be and the more of them there are.

    As an expatriate civil servant of many years, I had to actually stop and record one of Ms. Rodriques’ lines years ago in Cayman Brac when she was opening the Brac UCCI campus. I have worked under her leadership in the High Schools addressing the education of our children against gangs and negative influences. She is simply marvelous.

    I would like to congratulate and thank you Ms. Rodriques for making these islands better, and for making the future of my children and their children brighter. Keep up the fantastic job you are doing, and know that there are those of us who appreciate it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ban donuts. Ban Facebook.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Central question: Did this lady doctor/amend/censor a government commissioned report to reflect a more favourable comment/distort the truth from the consultants or did she not? I would like to hear a clear statement answering this question from all those who have suddenly appeared on this comments page to state how magnificent Mrs Rodrigues is.

    • SB says:

      Maybe you can explain this- how do you change a report and end up with the original and the changed version? Does that sound like a doctored report to you. Get real

      • Anonymous says:

        Easy. You doctor the report but forget to destroy all copies of the original which then gets leaked to an MLA. Bingo, bobo.

    • Anonymous says:

      She did doctor. And that is why she is unfit for the job and ironically is probably why she got the job. Her silence is an admission, like CIFA not saying whether they voted for Blatter.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t they cut their losses and send her to run the London Office-another highly paid non job. She can strategize and energize and set up all sort of BS groups there for British MPs wanting a freebie to Cayman and cocktail parties in our ludicrously expensive London Office premises or more likely in choice London locations. Since Jennifer Dilbert left I have heard they are missing those benefits mightily..

  9. Anonymous says:

    I am a civil servant and I completed the training on business case development on Tuesday. It was fantastic! I was in a group of over 20 persons, and everyone left excited and positive. We all want to be a part of the change. And you know what were the keys and what’s different with the work that Mrs Rodrigues and her team are doing? They care, theyre professional, they understand how people learn best and they want us to succeed.

    They also give us great tools. Do you know what they trainers said? They said they have worked with many private sector companies and government departments in the UK and other places, and the business case templates and guidance documents developed Mrs Rodrigues’ unit, the Strategic Reforms Implementation Unit are some of the best they have ever seen! They said these tools made their job easy, because we have such a great foundation. I felt good and proud of our civil service.

    • Anonymous says:

      Amen, 2:44 pm at 14/10: that is the Mary Rodrigues that I know — talented, organized and knowledgeable.

    • Anonymous says:

      Feel good feel good. Don’t worry it won’t last I went on one of those courses and when you get back to the office it all goes out the window. Same ol same ol different name, back then it was called 🙂 I don’t remember.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can have all the strategies, policies, protocols etc in place. You need to change the hearts and mind of people and that, I am afraid is impossible in Cayman. So, while I think the marketing of a re imagined civil service will come to zilch. Same old, same old all the way.

  10. Anonymous says:

    After the education reporting doctoring fiasco this decision is a disgrace.

  11. Anonymous says:

    A simple step would be to make it a disciplinary offence to conduct business for another organisation during the government working hours. That alone would improve efficiency.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is a disciplinary offence under the Public Servants’ Code of Conduct. But, remember, we don’t do enforcement of any laws or rules in Cayman.

    • Great Brain says:

      It seems like our brilliant posters won’t know a good thing even if it jumped up and bite them.

      Proud of Ms Rodrigues and our Deputy Governor. The training being provided is fabulous and I thank both of them for their commitment to making the civil service better.

      Please don’t not be deterred.

  12. Uncivil Servant says:

    Lets make a plan, to commission a report, to formulate a plan.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is the Chief Officer who developed a strong team in the ministry and:
    1. Gave us Passport2Success, giving hope and skills and jobs to young people and mothers who people had given up on
    2.Was the first to do something positive for at-risk youth, hired Michael Myles to get out there and advocate, persuaded other Chief Officers to come together to create Behaviour and Education Support Teams (BEST) at each school to help our most vulnerable children
    3.Introduced the After School programme, to keep our children safe until their parents could get home to them (remember all the problems we use to have with high school students hanging out in town causing trouble after school)
    4.Gave us the first national standards for principals and teachers and a performance management system for schools
    5.Introduced the first academic standards for high school graduations
    6. Developed an effective Early Childhood Unit and introduced the first early years curriculum framework to raise standards in our pre-schools, and brought back Reception in our government schools
    7.Developed the National Workforce Agency, to bring real attention and services to help Caymanians to find jobs and get trained (before it was just one output is a Department whose main focus was enforcing the Labour Law
    8.Reorganised secondary education and created CIFEC (without any extra funding), to give second chances to our students. Before CIFEC students had one shot to pass their exams and then they were out. Do you know how many students qualified for scholarships because of that second chance? Do you know how many more Caymanians chose to do A Levels and UCCI because of the Dual Entry programme?
    9. Launched a campaign to encourage our community to value education and educators, so that our schools would be supported to improve.
    10. Delivered a strategic plan for education that was praised by all sides during election campaigns

    I am sure there is much more, but these are the things that stand out for me. All in four years, while at the same time trying to clean up the mess with the new CHHHS and JG high schools and delivering new classroom blocks at George Town Primary, Savannah Primary, West Bay Primary and Bodden Town and a school hall and canteen in East End Primary. Did you hear that the primary schools work was equivalent to the square footage of a new primary school for 13 million dollars?

    Let’s not forget the hard work of her deputies-Christen Suckoo, who had responsibility for the capital projects and Vaughan Carter who had to oversee all the legal drama.

    That’s a record not many could match. We should be thanking her !

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree 9:36 at 14/10. Mrs Rodrigues is among the best of the best in private or public sector. She is very bright and knows education. No one is perfect and she may have made errors — but she has an excellent record for accomplishments in education. Unfortunately, she took over from some very weak people at the helm of education. The mess they left in the gross mis-direction of the the Clifton Hunter and John Gray school projects is ample evidence of that.

      We have to be careful how we tar people in these posts — we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and the pressures from conflicting interests.

      From the quality of some of these comments, most people tearing her down could not hold a candle to her.

      • Anonymous says:

        There it is, the key phrase “conflicting interests” which just about sums up the Civil Service. This does not mean that she has not done at times a good job, but she severely dented her authority to bring in a reimagined civil service when what was actually part of the problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please get your facts straight these programs were in place before Mary.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes and Vaughan was treated so disgracefully that he got out of the Civil Service.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Get someone in from the private sector. An insider will achieve nothing, as her career so far proves.

  15. Anonymous says:

    What Mrs Rodrigues is saying is important. We can improve the way we operate in government if we all want to make the change. What if every time we approved an important project (not just capital projects), we had a document that could show how decisions were made and what else we investigated before we went forward? What if politicians had information that said this project will be delivered for this amount of money, by this time and here’s how we will go about doing it and here’s how you can check that the civil service is getting on with it? A good business case and good planning can help.

    There are a lot of haters out there, but so few who actually try to do anything positive. I recently attended a training course for civil servants to develop business cases. It was organized by Mrs Rodrigues unit with overseas trainers. It was excellent. Everyone in my group thought it was excellent. We need to continue to provide training and give people the skills to change. Many other civil servants are being trained. Even our Chief Officers and Ministers hard workshops so everyone could be on the same page and do their part. Thank you!

  16. Anonymous says:

    yawn….just read miller shaw or e&y reports…….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  17. Anonymous says:

    The posts at 6:15p and 6:31p are both spot on.
    The DG has lost all credibility in my books with how he handled both the inappropriate behaviour of Mary in her former position and the selection of the person to head up this reform effort.
    Firstly, in spite of the public disclosure in both the LA and the media through there FoI requests of the inappropriate actions of Mary as Chief Officer to seek to have a professional report altered to suit her taste buds, not one word was ever uttered by the DG as to the consequences of what she had done. It does seem likely however that she became persona non grata in the Ministry.
    Secondly, in seeking to launch this much needed reform initiative, one would have thought that the DG would have undertaken an open and transparent selection process to find the best person within the civil service or even within the island to take on the role – in keeping with his regular comments about his commitment to open and transparent selection. But no, he had a ‘fan’ (who is good at cheering those who she thinks can help her) and who had got in trouble trying to protect herself and a good West Bayer (Rolston), so what does the DG do? He forgets all about trying to select the best person; he rescues Mary from the burning house she has created.
    Sorry DG, you failed on both. I’m really disappointed after all of your horn blowing.

    • Perry says:

      7:58 go back to sleep. Obviously you are upset because the DG didn’t select you. Name one person who could be doing to great job Ms Rodrigues is doing. Guess you wanted him to bring in some foreign national. Leave the DG alone …He is doing great things in the civil service.

      • Anonymous says:

        Can you tell us, 12:40, exactly what the “great job Ms Rodrigues is doing” actually is? When she was evicted from the Education Ministry they had to find this “make work” role supposedly implementing the EY report but already she has surrounded it with duff management speak, “exciting” strategies and focus groups which never ever seem to get her or us anywhere.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Ms. Rodrigues should first run this experiment on her native Cayman Brac. If it proves successful there, then bring it to Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fix District Administration in Cayman Brac? Would this be done before or after Rodrigues walks on water?

      • Anonymous says:

        Why would you think that government in Cayman Brac is worse than government in Grand Cayman?

        • Anonymous says:

          I’m sure civil servants are the same on both islands. Wasting money, running personal businesses while on government time, late to work if they bother to show at all, trying to make themselves look good no mater what, nepotism etc……

        • Anonymous says:

          The so called “government” in Cayman Brac is nothing more than a collective of wealthy families who rule with the proverbial fist of iron, so much so that the culture of fear prevents people from speaking their views. This sometimes pervades the press, but the strong ones call it as it is.
          Cayman Brac is most certainly a tougher nut to crack than Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      In this day and age with all its technological advancement do we really need District Administration at all, particularly in its present form? Why can’t the activities be supervised from headquarters in Grand Cayman keeping a minimal managerial presence instead of the top heavy monster we have there now?

      Or is this just being used to yet again prop up a doomed Brac economy by providing employment to the faithful few of the Brac politicians?

  19. Anonymous says:

    The only thing more useless is the so call Civil service association of do-nothing kiss ups.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because, 5:39, from the President downwards it tends to be made up of no-hoper malcontent civil servants who think they cant get promoted because expats are taking their jobs when in fact the real reason is they are just not good at their jobs, their attitude stinks and that is why they end up on CICSA. I would lobe to give names but CNS would not print them. But check out the membership. There are a very few decent members but most have been there for years and years because no one gives a toss about them or CICSA. There is a nice Customs guy been there for 20 years or more -asleep on the job, smiling happily all the time, really pleasant incompetent guy. He typifies CICSA. Now Christen has become a Chief Officer, many of us are wondering who will help James.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The only people who could reform the CIG are the police and the criminal judges, and they’re on the payroll.

  21. blah blah blah says:

    Mess up one drive through order and you get canned. Mess up an entire Ministry and you get promoted.

  22. Just Watchin says:

    Culture change yeah right.
    How about learning to face the truth and not trying to camouflage it – Mrs Rodrigues’ area of expertise.
    When you do the things that she did and get hand picked by the Dep Gov to head up this thing, the message was clearly sent to the civil service that performance isn’t what is key, kissing ___ is.
    It is absolutely amazing how before people like Angela Martins and Alden and then her and her former Minister came on the scene, schools got built without fanfare and controversy , e.g. Red Bay Primary, Prospect Primary. And they were standing tall after Ivan.
    Now suddenly she in her wisdom has determined that the civil service needs to learn about and appreciate business cases and project management.

    • Anonymous says:

      6:31, you have hit on a key point — the disgraceful wastage at the Clifton Hunter and John Gray schools as a result of the failures of some of the people you mentioned. For example, they Either failed to do research themselves on the open class room concept or chose to ignore the evidence that it had been rejected and abandoned as a failed system from as far back as 1968/70. Yet in the next century they are wasting our hard earned momey on these expensive buildings designed on the open classroom concept. Now they have to be retrofitted and adapted by teachers — the very persons who should have been consulted but were largely ignored in the process. And, mark you, none of those persons you mentioned, other than Mrs. Rodrigues, who had to mop after them, had any direct or substantial acquired knowledge of the field of education or teaching. It really makes your heart bleed to think about it. How do they manage to sleep at night, knowing what they have done to the futures of the children of these islands who have lost put in the process. Very sad and painful.

      • Anonymous says:

        Say “Thank you” to that Long suffering Consultant Professor who sold us that arctic bunker plan.

    • Anonymous says:

      She is the one to undertake such a guff job. Good thing they decentralised all the HR and finance mgt services.

    • Kenny says:

      I am so proud of Ms Rodrigues. She like all of us makes mistakes. Of course the negative CNS posters are all perfect knows everything but offers no solutions and complain complain.

      I am proud that the deputy governor has given her this opportunity ….great bosses give opportunity and allow staff to grow and get better.

      Obviously no one that has posted thus far on CNS has had a great boss. I almost pity you.

    • London says:

      For heaven sake let Pedro Castles and social services victimizing witches trolls andghosts lie;and do not invoke social nightmares! we have moved on.

      Ms Rodriguez seems to be implying that government is being run more like a backhouse thsn a business!
      put it simple;when funds are requested for a project a buiness plan should be submitted attached to the request for funding just like its done in the private sector.

      After so manx decades of attempted governance one would think that this should already be a standing requirement for govt it any wonder. so mu so much money
      is. beingwasted repeatedly with no. apparant remedy in sight? Ms Rodriguez is presenting the remedy to reckless govt spending paving the way for accountability as well the Auditor genersl lm sure agrees with Ms Rodriguez.


    • Anonymous says:

      Because before locals were good enough to do the job. Come 21st century and Dart has raised the bar all of a sudden it’s not good enough. Good or bad?

  23. My Little Pet says:

    Coming from a lady who altered and fluffed a report to suit her very own ego and agenda and was not immediately fired or terminated but given a wider post to reform the CS by her buddie the DG No wonder the CS is in need of serious reform you first my dear you first !

  24. SSM345 says:

    So in any other business, if you are not onboard with policies and procedures then you are out the door. Why is it so difficult for Govt. to abide by the same set of principles? Oh wait…..

  25. Anonymous says:

    Want to know how to really change the culture in public sector management?
    Free advice:
    Just appreciate and respect all staff with more than just words, remove those on the dole who need to move on, and lift up those who really want to do new & greater things for govt.
    Not all this chatter of “concept of business cases and solid project management methodologies for any future capital development”, and so on.

  26. Anonymous says:

    We really are so lucky to have someone as experienced as Mary Rodrigues in the civil service. She has seen “tings” and learned many lessons. That is the value of trying to keep good talent in the civil service.

    But I digress — to the matter at hand. As someone who has also been through the ropes, my view is that the biggest problem is the propensity of COs and Ministers alike to give audience to complaining staffers. And the lies that get transmitted is sometimes just incredible. We all know there are two sides and then there is the truth — but we are so anxious to engage in gossip and so naive — and so unprofessional. It is as if we are glad to hear these accounts at the expense of those appointed to manage people because it makes us feel better about ourselves.

    Until we can behave professionally at top management, those below will never be able to function properly themselves. Soon the civil service culture is reduced to the lowest common denominator.

    We need a culture change indeed — and it must begin at the top. And it must begin with greater respect for everyone at all levels. At the core must be the basic management principles of not stabbing your managers in the back — harsh, but that is what a lot of the gossip sessions between lower level staff and those at the very top amounts to.

    • anon says:

      Amen to that, many good managers have left or have been forced out of the Civil Service for lack of support at the top.

      A bunch of under-performing staff go whining to the DG and suddenly people are blackballed and held down. It happens way too often in the Civil Service

      • Anonymous says:

        Totally, 4:36 at 14/10 — in an organisation where managers are respected, staffers below them would not dare to go whining to the bosses of their managers. It would not be tolerated. The rule of thumb is to set up an appointment for the matter to be aired in the presence of the manager. That is simply the professional HR practice. What that results in is weakened manager who in turn curry favour with their staff rather than doing their job. This is a core problem with the civil service — lack of professionalism and proper discipline at all levels. That is the culture change that is needed to begin with.

      • Anonymous says:

        this is so true people who are making a difference suddenly stepped on toes and down they go. What’s the DG doing about them. High performers should be rewarded in the Civil Service these are gems and rare and can make others like them if you allow them.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Waste of time and money

  28. Anonymous says:

    There is no way that we are near ready to change. It is also rich that the woman who authorized the doctoring of a report should now be talking about accountability. Of course everything she said is right in terms of project management etc. I have found though that in Cayman senior managers are excellent at talking the talk and then going on doing exactly what they have always done. I still wish her well. Our re-imagined Civil Service will not come about in the lifetime of my grandchildren.

  29. Anonymous says:

    its 3 pm and franz is posting on face book again Face book should be banned during working hours

    • Sonia says:

      3:04 are you insane ….do you really believe that Franz is doing the posting on his Facebook page? Oh by the way that’s not Franz personal page it’s the Deputy Governors page. So its all about work and promoting his work in the civil service. I wonder why you didn’t pick that clear fact up.zzzzzzzz wake up.

      This posts really show the mentality of people ….tear down our caymanians why? because we are jealous. Never give credit where credit is due . Why? Because we are envious.

      This article is great news. The civil service is changing for the better. …more training , following best practise and developing a strategic plan which is so badly needed. I for one are proud of what I see going on.

      Oh i love to view the deputy governor Facebook page. So much positive and happy events.

      • Anonymous says:

        I used to be very fond of franz for many years in fact But now I find him running a sinking ship without the energy or drive or perhaps he has no power to do anything anymore its sad to tell ya the truth.
        And its not franz fault either I understand he is trying to point out the good but lets get real too much kool aid was drank and now cayman is almost done.
        I still love cayman but she is like a burned out junkie just surviving day today

    • London says:

      If l were Franz ld fire everyone of you Crabs who are questioning his professional judgement.Franz you must get rid of the bad apples before they poison the entire basket! Thse trolls are still jealous of you becoming Deputy Governor because these crabs hate to see one of their very own advance. lts ok for the White Englishman or White Americn or Canadian to kick them around like slaves but they rebel against. Caymanians moving upward questioning what you . the DG does.
      Franz theyll soon have you out ofthat DG seat so . you better st start doing some pruning and pull up these weeds that are choking the life and power out of you.

      Franz you need to fire some people. or suspend them for causing unrest or rebellion within the civil is very disrepectful.there are very highly qualified and educated Caymanians who would be happy to have a civil service job enjoying sll the benefits.
      Maybe this scenrio is the majot the sareason why some businesses do not want to hire Caymanians they are too envious and jealous therir motto is “play or spoil”.
      Franz it may seem hrsh but could it be tht now is the time to make them feel your DG weight!show these rebels who the boss is!

      • Anonymous says:

        I’d watch your back as the chip on your shoulder will certainly leave you with posture problems!

  30. Anonymous says:

    It is my belief that Mary is going to have to get heavy and start teaching them the meaning of the four letter word- I hope CNS print this -yes its ” W O R K”. Once they master that they could try the next step, involving two four letter words- “G O O D W O R K”. Its going to be tough, but someone has to do it.

  31. Anonymous says:

    The civil servants found out that the government was in a better financial position and have come up with a plan to waste it all. No real news here, same thing happens every time. Perhaps if the civil service had better leaders these programs would be unnecessary.

  32. Anonymous says:

    My guess will be a lot of banal management speak will be vomitted out and nothing will happen.

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